The European economy has slowed down sharply in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak. In an attempt to reboot the economy, the Members of the European Parliament adopted a legislative resolution by a strong majority during a plenary session on Wednesday, asking the European Commission for an emergency (contingency) plan by June 15, 2020. The Parliament believes that the contingency plan would provide a safety net for the revival of the EU economy in case an agreement on the post-2020 budget is not reached on time. Furthermore, it will help in protecting the beneficiaries of the EU funds, while ensuring that the long-term EU budget will keep cushioning the recuperation from the socio-economic consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic. Speaking in the matter, Chair of the Parliament’s budgetary committee Johan Van Overtveldt said, “When we get into June, time becomes short to get the [budget] approved and up and running in time and a discontinuity of current EU programs would be very bad for citizens and for the reputation and political coherence of the EU.”
The EU leaders have been negotiating over the size and distribution of the EU’s long-term budget, also known as the Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF), for months now. The European Commission headed by President Ursula von der Leyen is expected to submit a proposal for an enhanced long-term MFF and recovery fund which will deal with the consequences of the global health crisis.
The current long-term EU budget expires on December 21, 2020, requiring the commission to bring a new plan for the next seven years 2021-2027 as soon as possible. It will be coming into force on January 1, 2021. As per reports, Ursula von der Leyen has drafted her plans for the new MFF and recovery plan based on three pillars – recovery and repair, kick-starting the economy and learning the lessons. She pointed out that a planned COVID-19 economic rescue package will be integrated into the EU’s budget for 2021-2027, maintaining that the EU economy and society will be reopening carefully and gradually.
During the plenary session on Wednesday, MEPs urged for the next long-term budget to be ambitious and future-oriented. They underlined that it should focus on farmers and the future, by tackling climate change, digitalization, and supporting the weaker section of the society. Moreover, the European Parliament has been insisting on an increase in green investment such that climate action is given utmost importance in post-pandemic recovery.
According to media reports, the European Parliament is seeking a recovery package worth €2 trillion in an attempt to support the economy amid the COVID-19 crisis during the plenary session.